Saigon Opera House
Saigon Opera House is known as the central opera house of Ho Chi Minh City with Western European style. It makes many tourists think that they are in romantic Paris but not in Saigon.
Where is Saigon Opera House and how to get there?
Where is Saigon Opera House
Saigon Opera House, also known as Ho Chi Minh Municipal Theater is located at 7 Cong Truong Lam Son in Dong Khoi Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. The Opera House is right next to the two luxury hotels, Caravelle Hotel and Hotel Continental Saigon.
How to get to Saigon Opera House
Saigon Opera House is located close to the city center, so you can easily get there by motorbike, car, bus, tour or by train. If you use a motorbike or car, you can park at the Municipal Theater Parking Lot. Its opening hour is from 8:00-22:00. Traveling by bus is the most cost-effective and safe way to travel. Bus numbers 02, 03, 19, 45, 53 stop near the Opera House, then you can walk there. Cyclo is also popular in Saigon, so you can use that kind of transfer to get to the theater.
The History of Saigon Opera House
Saigon Opera House was built in 1898 on a total area of nearly 3,200 m2 and was first inaugurated on 1st January 1900 with the purpose to entertain the growing middle class. However, it gradually lost its customers due to the appearance of nightclubs, music bars, and dance halls. During that time, there are few performances, concerts, and Cai Luong programs at the theater.
In 1944, the venue was bombed by the Allied aerial attacks, causing damage and the shutdown of Saigon Opera House. In 1954, after the French army surrendered to Viet Minh during the Battle of Dien Bien Phu which led to the Geneva Accords, the theatre was used as a temporary shelter for French civilians arriving from North Vietnam. One year later, it was renovated and functioned as the Congress House of the Republic of Vietnam. After 1975, the theater was returned to its original function as an art performance organization.
In 1998, on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the founding of Saigon, Saigon Opera House was renovated and kept its French architectural style. In 2012, Saigon Opera House was certified as a national relic. Since then it has become a famed venue for many important events and cultural, and entertainment activities of the city.
Saigon Opera House's structure and architecture
The Opera House was designed by a group of French architects including Félix Olivier, Ernest Guichard, and Eugène Ferret. The architecture of Saigon Opera House was inspired by the Palace Garnier and the Petit Palais in Paris, with the facades having three doors and the statues of two women following the style of Greek Caryatids of Erechtheion. On top of the building lie two angels honoring the Lyre guitar, which is also a highlight of the building’s facade.
The theater is only open for concerts, and you can not get inside most of the time. From the outside, you can only see beauty, which is more than enough for you to learn about the French Colonial architecture in this Southeast Asian country.
Top recommended shows at Saigon Opera House
Saigon Opera House is home to host many professional theatrical performances such as drama, "cai luong" (a kind of folk song in South Vietnam), opera, ballet, folk songs, and opera… The below is three recommended shows you should not miss when in Saigon
A O Show
The sound “A” means ‘village’ and “O” reminiscent of ‘street’. The show takes you back to the Southern countryside of Vietnam. A O Show is a unique merge of bamboo circus, acrobatics acts, contemporary dance, traditional Vietnamese music, and theatrical visual art. During one hour show, you will have the chance to see the charming beauty and cultural richness of Vietnamese life in the countryside and the nation’s racing urbanization.
The mist is an emotional show telling the stories of Southern Vietnamese farming communities and their daily struggles out at the field. The show attracts the audience with a myriad of ups and downs painted by the sensational live music, magnificent visuals, and lively lighting effects. In addition, there are the indispensable wooden clogs, the simple but subtle and elegant outfits from the “ao ba ba”, “ao dai”, and robes.
Opera Gala is symphony night with legendary tunes from famous composers such as Bach, Mozart, Beethoven.
Independence Palace is about 1 km from Saigon Opera House. It is listed as a historical monument by witnessing great changes in Ho Chi Minh City’s history and having in itself the essence of Eastern culture. The opening time of Independence Palace is from 8:00 to 17:30. The entrance fee is 40.000 VND for adults and 10.000 VND for children.
Notre Dame Cathedral
Built in the late 1880s by French colonists, Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral is only half one kilometer from Saigon Opera House. This cathedral is one of the few remaining strongholds of Catholicism in largely Buddhist Vietnam. It takes only 7 minutes walking from the Opera House to Notre Dame Cathedral, and the entrance fee is free
Saigon Central Post Office
The Central Post Office in Ho Chi Minh is a beautifully preserved remnant of French colonial times, which is only a 7-minute walk from the Saigon Opera House. The building was designed by Alfred Foulhoux and features arched windows and wooden shutters, just as it would have in its heyday in the late 19th Century. The post office is open from 7:00 to 19:00 except Saturdays. The entrance fee is free.
Tips for the best experience at Saigon Opera House
- If you want to take photos with the facade of the building, visit it in the late afternoon (from 15:00 hours to 17:00 hours) as this is the time when the lighting is the best for photos.
- You should arrive at the theater 15-30 minutes before the performance starts to get the best seats, take photos before the show
- At the end of the show, the artists will interact with the audience, so do not forget to bring a camera or phone to take souvenir photos with them
- Do not bring smelling food and drinks into the theater, which affects other audience
- When entering the Opera House, you should dress politely, neatly, and avoid wearing offensive costumes.
- After the show, you can sit down in front of the Opera House to rest or feast on iced milk coffee on the surrounding sidewalks. It will be a great experience.